Sunday, September 09, 2007

Happy B(ava)-Day: Golden State Lets In ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK!

30-plus years in the researching/writing/designing!
12-plus pounds in the hoisting!
1128 pages in the binding!
Tim Lucas' exhaustive, exhausting Mario Bava - All the Colors of the Dark is arriving all over the world.

The crepuscular rainbow shines down into our own living room today. Actually, it got to L.A. on Wednesday, but anyway, there are photos to prove it: here's me and my All the Colors of the Dark! That grin is half unrestrained glee and half lifting-grimace.

First Impression: This cinder block of biography, history, criticism, and analysis is truly monumental in several senses of the word. That much will be clear after reading only a chapter. As a biography of Bava alone, All the Colors of the Dark is immediately the standard reference work, but Lucas covers so many bases it's like five or six books in one.

All the Colors is also an art book. This is absolutely the best design and layout work Donna Lucas has ever done. Elegant and clear, tasteful but playful, somehow, there is something fun on every page - photos, publicity art, sidebars, color spots, subtle halftone beds, something - and it's balanced organically with the text. Designing a large format art book that is also a massive critical biography and a reference book is a special, crazy challenge... and this one is 1128 pages of special crazy challenge. Did I mention the four columns of text on those pages?

As the photos demonstrate, the first thing that happens when you get the book is you flip to the chapter on your favorite Bava movie - Blood and Black Lace in this case - and then your mouth opens. And you just kind of look at it.

Let us be honest. People have waited a long time for this book, and surely we're all delighted when it arrives. But Long Time is relative. It's not like other film books, because there is a built-in audience awareness of the author's effort and dedication. If you hadn't been following its progress in Video Watchdog, the final stages of production were documented on a dedicated blog about the Bava book. To hold the finished book is to be impressed. But I wonder. I wonder what happens when a biographer spends so long in pursuit of his subject? When a critic pores over the same texts for so long? When one stares into a film for decades, and it finally ends, do the colors persist? Or do they all go dark?

I reckon I'll find out, somewhere between the covers, under the mask of the demon. Just order the book already.

And yes, that is a stack of my first editions of Tim Lucas novels on the couch.